The tuk-tuk tour was a birthday treat for Neil and to make it extra special I booked the tuk-tuk wine tour, which included wine tasting with snacks guided by a wine specialist. After a false start earlier in the week, which I shall gloss over, Vasco Chaveca, the owner of Allgav-TukTuk himself, picked us up from outside our apartment in Carvoeiro and drove us to a lovely winery located between Lagoa and Silves. The drive to the vineyard was pleasant, with a cooling breeze coming into the open-sided tuk-tuk and as there was no engine noise we were able to chat easily to Vasco, who was an affable chauffeur. Vasco formed the Portimão-based company in 2013 and in 2016 the company was named the Tour Operator of the Year – Algarve in the Luxury Travel Guide Global Awards.
We arrived at the Quinta do Outeiro, the home of Paxá Wines, and were met by Nídia, our host and guide, and were briefly introduced to the owner of Paxá Wines, Tiago Lopes. The company was founded in 2007 by Tiago’s father, Joaquim, who turned the former citrus grove into 13 hectares of vines, using 12 grape varieties suited to the rust-coloured clay and limestone soil. Wine has been produced in the Algarve region since before Moorish times and the company’s name, Paxá, (Pasha) is recognition of the Moorish heritage. Until the 1980s it is fair to say that Algarvean wine was not good. The main grape variety of the region was Negro Mole, which made an unpalatable red wine best suited to pouring on salads. However, Algarvean wine producers are now growing different grape varieties, such as Touriga Nacional, Syrah, Alicante Bouschet, Arinto and Crato Branco, and are skilfully blending them into quality wines.
After a tour of the small production area, where until last year the team of seven labelled the bottles by hand, we walked through the vineyards, learning that only three permanent employees look after the vines, although contracted workers are taken on to help with the harvest in August.
Finally we entered the old farmhouse, which is now a tasting room and display area where the company proudly displays awards that their wines have won at various wine shows. A table was laid out with appetizing snacks and we were given a leaflet with tasting notes. We began with a glass of Quinta do Outeiro Tinto, a light red made of Syrah, Alicante Bouschet, Touriga Nacional, Aragonez and Trincadeira grapes. It was fruity with soft tannins and was very pleasant to drink on its own. We then tried it with a crispbread spread with pork pâté which the wine complimented, cutting through the richness of the pâté. Next we tried a Paxá Branco, a wonderful citrus white wine, launched in February 2017, made with Arinto and Crato Branco grapes. This was a light and refreshing wine, perfect to drink on its own on a hot day. To go with this we were offered a crispbread spread with a mackerel pâté. The wine worked perfectly with the rich fishy flavour of the mackerel. The third wine was the Paxá Tinto, a dark red wine made of Syrah, Alicante Bouschet, Touriga Nacional and Tinta Roriz grapes. It was a wonderfully smooth, berry-flavoured wine, which I could see myself drinking in the winter. To accompany this we were offered dark orange-flavoured chocolate. I don’t have a sweet tooth and for me the chocolate didn’t work with the wine, which I was happy to drink on its own! The winery also produces several Reserve wines and limited editions, included an intriguing oak-barrelled Viognier.
Our visit had come to an end, so we climbed, slightly tipsy, back into the tuk-tuk and Vasco drove us back to Carvoeiro following a different route to the one we had come in from. We said our goodbyes and spent the afternoon in a happy haze.
We booked the tour through the Allgav-TukTuk website www.allgav-tuktuk.pt. A two-hour tour with wine tasting costs €40 per person (as of June 2017) and a three-hour tour with snacks costs €65 per person.
Paxá Wines is located at Quinta do Outeiro, Sítio do Lobito (between Lagoa and Silves). Website: www.paxawines.pt